Being Known

“I love what you did to your hair!”

I heard this sentiment all day Tuesday from colleagues and students alike. I watched as some people viewed me with awe and I watched as some people struggled to remember exactly who I am. The struggle was evident in the way their eyes scanned my face for some familiarity, the uncomfortable smile that says “I should know you”, and the inflection in their voice that screamed uncertainty.

To be fair, I work with approximately 150 other staff members at a school that serves almost 1000 elementary students.  To know everyone is a reach. Some of these people, however, are people I have had several conversations with and have worked on certain projects with. You think people see you but a lot of times they’re seeing past you.  I was intrigued and disappointed at the same time.

The change that people see, perhaps, can be attributed to something deeper than my hair. I cut my hair in April and the color is similar to what I’ve had for awhile. They’ve seen the hair before. A more noticeable change that I thought would’ve been stated is that I am now without my glasses. But no one mentioned that.

The change I believe is most attributable to the change is my posture. When I began my tenure at this school in August 2013, I was a broken woman. I was facing an inevitable break up, finances in shambles, self-esteem that changed like spring weather, and being well aware that I had to accept this job opportunity more out of necessity than out of passion. Heartbreak was written all over my face to anyone who could discern between genuine and “put on” smiles.

So when I walked in on Tuesday to a number of blankly excited expressions, I got a little agitated but I also got a little excited. Maybe it’s because in my courses for my grad program truly striving to know and be present with people is being hammered in my head. So I admit I may be a little sensitive to it. But it made me stop and think.

Two of the greatest things in life (to me) is to know and be known. It’s not about popularity; it’s much more about intimacy than anything else. When you know that people get you…that they see you…that they hear you, it makes a big difference. Last year when I began at Hybla Valley, I had plenty of reasons (I thought) to hide. I’ve already blogged about some of those things. But when you’re ready to be known, your posture says that’s the deal. Your posture is more open even without you trying. Some call it confidence, some call it aura – but it is always an invitation.

In life, we’ll expect things from people that we don’t expect from ourselves. We’ll expect for them to know us but we’re not ready or postured to be known. We’ll expect them to love us but we haven’t loved ourselves. We’ll expect them to listen when we’re not even sure of what we’re saying. I was guilty of all three.  As a person who always prided myself on being the “anonymous” person – the one who people see but people know little about- I’m seeing things a little differently these days. I value intimacy over mystery now. And I understand that I can present myself to be known and still have the “it” factor- the thing that separates me from the rest. Being known is just as much about your deliberate actions as it is about others’ actions.

It made me wonder, even when considering those who are the closest to me – How much of myself had I presented for them to really know? People work with what you give them and I had given so many little pieces that no one had the complete picture.

So though my interactions this week have been a bit…(eh…weird?), they’ve caused me to practice reflection. In the profession that I will be pursuing (professional counseling), I am required to do and be many things. Among those many things, I am expected to be a self-aware, fully present facilitator of people’s paths to being whole. The counseling relationship will not be about me but will require me to know myself; it will not be about what I can do but more about what I can give. What I give of myself – my posture – will determine the tone of those interactions and relationships. What I give of myself – seen through my posture – determines the tone of my interactions and how I’m known.

What are you giving?

P.S. – Part 2 of “The SINGLE Elephant in My Room” will be next week.  I’ll be discussing desiring marriage (*Birdman hand rubs*).

P.P.S. – To the friend who kindly reminded me “you BLOG-GUH” when I was telling someone else earlier this week that I write, I hope this blog is enough to qualify as writing…lol.

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(photo cred: crosswalk.com)

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